MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. NPB — MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Dunbar High continued its victory tour last night, downing the nation's No. 3 team, St. Raymond's of New York, 89-81, in a semifinal game of the Beach Ball Classic.
The victory before a standing-room-only crowd of 3,000 at Socastee High pushed the Poets' season record to 10-0 and extended their winning streak to 33 games.
The Poets, the top-ranked team in USA Today's Top 25, advance to tonight's 8 o'clock final against No. 13 Simon Gratz of Philadelphia, which downed No. 2 St. Joseph Notre Dame from Alameda, Calif., 60-53. Dunbar edged Gratz, 52-49, in the championship game of the War Memorial Tournament Dec. 6 in Johnstown, Pa.
Dunbar pulled away from St. Raymond's (9-1) in the second quarter, outscoring the Ravens 25-6 to build a 42-26 halftime lead.
Although they never trailed after the spurt, the Poets again kept coach Pete Pompey on edge by allowing St. Raymond's to cut the lead to four with five minutes left before again building a comfortable margin.
"It was the defense that did it for us in the second quarter, but we didn't play great before and we made a lot of mistakes after," said Pompey. "But I guess when you are able to step up and do the things you have to, it makes a great deal of difference. I didn't like the way we got it done. It wasn't real pretty."
Give St. Raymond's some of the credit. The team from the Bronx kept the pressure on the Poets in the second half after turning the ball over eight times and hitting three of 10 field goals in the second quarter.
"We came out in the second half and wanted to prove we could play," said St. Raymond's coach Gary Decesare, whose team will meet the Poets again in the second day of the Charm City Classic at Towson State Jan. 18. "That was not us in the first half. We wanted to prove we're just as good as them."
St. Raymond's got within 68-64 on back-to-back layups by Dana Dingle (30 points). But the Poets scored the next five to lead 73-64 and never led by fewer than six the rest of the way as they constantly beat St. Raymond's full-court pressure.
Senior center Donta Bright paced Dunbar with 24 points and 18 rebounds. Senior guard Michael Lloyd scored 23, despite seven turnovers, and junior forward Keith Booth had 21 points and 11 rebounds.
All three played the entire game, but the Poets also got important contributions from others.
Senior guard Cyrus Jones scored just five, but his defense on St. Raymond's three-point specialist Danny Basile set the tone.
Basile, who hit three three-pointers and scored 20 to lead St. Raymond's over Myrtle Beach in Friday's quarterfinals, finished with seven points.
"I wanted to deny him the ball," said Jones. "He was a key. When they were coming back I had to keep him from shooting."
Sophomore center Alexander Mobley came off the bench for the second straight game to give the Poets some important scoring and rebounding.
Mobley, who had 10 points and nine rebounds in Friday's quarterfinal win over Male High of Louisville, had nine points and four rebounds last night.
He had five points during a 9-0 run in the second quarter that took the Poets from a 24-23 deficit to a 32-24 lead. After Dingle hit a layup for St. Raymond's to break that run,the Poets scored the final 10 points to build a 42-26 halftime lead.
"When I come in I like to rebound and block shots," said Mobley. "Scoring just comes to me. I like my role as a rebounder."
Pompey had some harsh words for his team after the game.
"They have some bad habits they are developing, although there are some other things they are developing like a winning attitude," he said. "They don't believe anyone can beat them. That's good and it's bad. They are very confident. They think nothing is insurmountable for them. I'm more of a realist. We have to play better. We beat a heck of a team tonight. We're going to meet people like that down the line. We have to play a little more consistent."